At a time when chip vendors like
Broadcom and STMicroelectronics have long held a stronghold on the
cable/satellite set-top box market, how did Zenverge sneak in?
Zenverge’s chip isn’t a set-top SoC. It’s a co-processor that works
with any set-top SoC. However, as Zenverge discovered, putting
transcoding and set-top functions into a single chip presents a
significant challenge. “Transcoding is an extraordinarily
memory-intensive operation, not unlike PC graphics. Multiple
uncompressed video frames must be written and read to RAM constantly,”
explained Froehlich. “However, [traditional] set-top pricing precludes
the use of non-DDR memory architectures, therefore, a dedicated
transcoding chip with dedicated memory and a dedicated memory bus
(Zenverge’s architecture) paired with a separate core chip may well be a
cheaper and easier-to-implement.”
Second, Zenverge predicts big changes coming to set-top SoCs.
market is moving to headless gateways with integrated transcoding,”
said Zenverge CEO Mobini, CEO. As the market for set-top boxes shifts to
headless gateways, the need for decoder SoCs with graphics and HDMI
video-out features are replaced by the need for gateway SoCs with
network processors, DOCSIS or DSL modems, MoCA 2.0, dual band wireless
and conditional access, he explained.
When asked about future
SoCs integrated with transcoding, Mobini noted that for the next 3-5
years, bandwidth issues will continue to make it hard for SoCs to
integrate multiple channels of transcoding. He believes this problem
will get significantly worse, as the market moves toward 4K video and
new video CODECs such as HEVC.
Then, how big is the addressable
market of multimedia home gateways that could feature a transcoder--which Zenverge’s target? While IHS doesn’t have an official trancoder
forecast yet, Froehlich estimates “just over 9.5 million units in 2015.”
industry has often debated whether transcoding should take place at
home or “in the cloud.” Zenverge thinks the option for transcoding in
the cloud will take much longer. “Take Netflix,” said Masterson. Netflix
needs to store something like 300 versions of the same movie [in
different resolutions] in their server before it can start streaming a
movie to a different device. “It’s almost like needing to have a
dedicated voice port for every call. It’s very inefficient.”
thing to keep in mind is the rights’ issue. While in-home transcoding
falls under “fair use” copyright law, service providers may need to
re-negotiate their agreements with content providers if they are to
offer content via the Internet. “Each operator has different pros and
cons related to the amount of unicast bandwidth they have, their chosen
home-vs.-cloud architecture for content storage, and negotiating power
they have with their content providers, and the age and structure of
those content contracts,” observed Froehlich.
in 2006 by a team of experts experienced in developing video compression
algorithms and building advanced media and network processors, has 100
employees today. 30 percent of its workforce is based in Bangalore.